Published on Thu 07 October 1999
There once were two evil brothers. They were rich and used their money to keep their evil ways from the public eye. They attended the same temple, and to everyone else, they appeared to be perfect Jews.
One day, their rabbi retired and a new one was hired. Not only could the new rabbi see right through the brothers' deceptions, but he also spoke well and true about it. Due to the rabbi's honesty and integrity, the temple's membership grew in numbers. Eventually, a fundraising campaign was started to build a much bigger temple.
All of a sudden, one of the brothers died. The remaining brother sought out the new rabbi the day before the funeral and handed him a check for the amount needed to complete the new building. He held the check for the rabbi to see.
"I have only one condition," he said. "At the funeral, you must say my brother was a mensch. You must say those exact words."
After some thought, the rabbi gave his word and took the check. He cashed it immediately. At the funeral the next day, however, the rabbi did not hold back. "He was an evil man," he said about the dead brother. "He cheated on his wife and abused his family. Never once did he commit an unselfish act." He railed on and on about the deceased.
After nearly a half hour of the evil truth, the rabbi paused and shrugged his shoulders. Finally, he said, "But compared to his brother, he was a mensch."